HIDDEN TREASURE – Find Castaway and find good food
There is a local restaurant proprietor who refers to egg yolk as “God’s Gravy,” and the breakfast menu at the Castaway certainly reflects his passion.
“When I bought this place, it was open for dinner only,” said Castaway owner and breakfast taste-tester John Mirabella. Founded on 15th Street in Marathon back in 1951, Mirabella acquired it in 1999 and has spent the past 20 years transforming it from a small seafood shack into one of the most popular restaurants in the Florida Keys.
“Doing a non-traditional breakfast has been my longtime dream,” he said. “Then I had an opportunity to hire a very good breakfast chef who was able to implement my vision” – a vision that includes high-end gravy made from pork and bacon, legitimate soft-poached eggs and chicken fried steak made with rib eye.
The breakfast dishes took 10 years to perfect, with Mirabella volunteering to act as a “guinea pig.”
And the dishes’ names are just as much a reflection of the recipe as they are of Mirabella himself. Take “The Morning After,” a Reuben sandwich, with meat replaced with shrimp. The sunny-side-up eggs make it perfect for dipping.
Or “Crabby Morning,” poached eggs over homemade crab cakes – one of four benedict specials on the daily menu.
Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. but for three hours (from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) patrons can order breakfast, lunch, dinner or sushi.
Mirabella bills the restaurant’s sushi as “authentic.” Toro, or the fatty belly of the bluefin tuna can be sampled here along with Uni – which is delivered only on Wednesdays and 86’d every week.
A lot of the Asian appetizers originate from the Philippines. Hamachi collar is a genuine and wonderful Yellowtail treat and Lumpia (ground pork spring rolls) is a “must have” at a Filipino party.
Castaway has 52 beers on tap and they’re half-price from 3 to 5 p.m.
While the breakfast menu doesn’t change very often, the rest of it is “subject to change,” with new specials weekly. So, don’t wait too long to try Elk Chop Dinner or Buffalo Ribeye and make Castaway your destination while they are still on the menu.
Restaurant & Sushi Bar
1406 Oceanview Ave.
(Turn from U.S. 1 onto 15th Street oceanside and then turn right onto Oceanview) MM 48
Breakfast: 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Lunch: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Dinner: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sushi is served starting 11 a.m.
Happy Hour menu items: 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Moondog Café and Bakery rises to meet demand
The folks behind The Café and Banana Café have debuted a funky new spot on Whitehead: Moondog Café and Bakery. With gorgeous baked goods in the front display case (fresh fruit tarts and homemade croissants) and savory smells coming from the kitchen, it’s easy to be led in by the nose. Moondog is already busy and bustling with tourists and locals alike, with colorful murals by Marky Pierson and the Wonderdog team as well as Marlene Koenig, creating an atmosphere that feels Caribbean by way of California.
The food is eclectic, with dishes to satisfy vegetarians and carnivores alike, from a hearty and healthy avocado & veggie salad, with roasted beets, kale, green goddess dressing and pumpkin seeds, to a mouth-watering “moon burger” menu — we recommend the Johnny Cash, with grilled onions and peppers, sharp cheddar, and sriracha mayo. Their brunch is a popular meal, with a beautiful bright tomato-y baked shakshuka and tasty breakfast tacos, and dinner is more elevated, with a nice fresh char-grilled octopus salad and ahi tuna poke. Don’t miss classics from the Café that have popped up on the Moondog menu: the roasted honey-garlic bruschetta and fresh spinach & artichoke dip are two standouts that are reliably delicious, veggie-forward and satisfying.
The staff has also risen to accommodate the already considerable crowd, with familiar smiling faces and bartenders serving up an impressive range of craft beers and cocktails. Moondog is still the new kid on the block, working out little kinks in food and service, but no doubt there’s a new favorite dining spot on the horizon.
Food for all at Key Largo restaurant
Known as “The Best Bite in the Keys,” a Key Largo restaurant is bringing a diverse mix of delicious food choices to its patrons.
Located in the median near MM 99, Keys Bite Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Run by sisters Adela and Alma Munoz, the restaurant’s menu has options for all to enjoy.
“We have all-American food, and we incorporate Mexican in our lunch as well as a few breakfast items,” Adela said. “For the night menu, it’s different than breakfast and lunch, and it offers what you will find here in the Keys. We also have a Hibachi menu, so there’s something for everyone.”
For lunch or dinner, patrons can start off with one of several appetizers, including the Keysbite Nachos. With choices of ground beef, chicken, pork or steak, bring some help, as the plate is filled with nachos, cheese, lettuce and pico de gallo. The lunch menu also features a variety of Mexican favorites. Try the Island burrito that’s made with blackened shrimp, scallops and mahi and sautéed with tomatoes and onions.
Keys Bite’s dinner menu includes a number of chicken choices, steaks, seafood, pasta, Mexican favorites, burgers and more. For breakfast, try one of many skillets, omelet options or waffles, pancakes or eggs, to name a few choices.
Adela says the Mexican menu items are very popular. From tacos and enchiladas to the popular Keysbite nachos appetizer, those looking for a good Mexican dish will leave satisfied.
“The Keysbite nachos are a meal itself,” Adela said.
Keys Bite has been around for five years. As for the Munoz family, they’ve been in the Keys since the 1980s. Adela said most employees are family. Those who aren’t, Adela says, are pretty close to it.
“We’ve all grown up working in a restaurant down here,” she said. “We (family) just decided we’d open up our own restaurant.”
Adela said community support for Keys Bite has been amazing with locals coming in frequently. She said roughly 80 percent of the customer base lives locally.
“Obviously, we’re here for everybody,” she said. “We love seeing our locals .”
Keys Bite Restaurant, located at 99000 Overseas Highway, has daily specials. More information is at www.floridakeysbite.com